If you are obese and having trouble keeping your diabetes under control, weight loss (bariatric) surgery may help lower your blood sugar levels. For some people, blood sugar levels eventually return to normal range, making diabetes medication no longer necessary. But before you make a decision, you should understand how and why weight-loss surgery works.
Risk of Obesity
Obesity means you have too much body fat, and if you carry that extra weight around your waist, you increase your risk of chronic health problems. Being overweight or obese doesn't just increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, that excess weight can lead to osteoarthritis, liver disease, sleep apnea, and some cancers.
Benefits of Weight-loss Surgery
When risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease are present and getting worse, your doctor may discuss weight loss surgery as a treatment. Excess weight can lead to a number of these and other health issues, including type 2 diabetes. Gastric bypass, which is a common form of weight loss surgery, can help improve diabetes control in addition to aiding in weight loss.
Research suggests that weight loss surgeries - particularly gastric bypass surgery - affect hormones and amino acids produced during digestion. One study found that insulin and amino acid levels were higher when food was digested in the smaller part of the stomach than in the larger bypassed section. Levels of free fatty acids - by-products of fat metabolism - were lower as well.
Increased levels of insulin during digestion helps control blood sugar levels. While elevated free fatty acid levels generally are present in obese individuals, lowering these levels also improves insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance decreases your body's ability to respond to insulin - a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Insulin tells the body to break down sugar in your blood so that the cells can use it for energy. Obesity and insulin resistance are key factors in developing type 2 diabetes.
Types of Weight Loss Surgery
When diet and exercise alone haven't helped you achieve long-term weight loss, weight-loss surgery may help you lose those excess pounds, reducing the risk of chronic disease. Weight-loss surgeries make changes to your digestive system that limit how much food you can eat and/or reduce the number of calories your body absorbs.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric bypass surgery divides your stomach into two sections. Following surgery, the upper section, or smaller section, is where the food you consume goes. Since your stomach is smaller, you eat less. The surgery also bypasses part of the small intestine, which allows food to pass from the smaller section of your stomach directly into the lower part of the upper small intestine.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery
If you are too heavy for gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve surgery is another option. The surgeon removes part of your stomach and creates a small sac, or sleeve. You feel full faster but must develop new eating habits, as certain foods may no longer agree with you. Since malnutrition is another possible complication, you have to take vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements every day for the rest of your life.
Gastric Lap Band Surgery
Gastric banding surgery is another form of weight loss surgery that helps you feel full faster so that you eat less. The surgeon makes small cuts in your abdomen to place a band around the upper part of your stomach. If necessary, the band can be tightened to improve weight loss results. Gastric banding is considered safer than other weight loss surgeries. Since it is the least invasive, it causes fewer side effects.
Bariatric surgery, regardless of which type you choose, is just one step in the weight loss process. Surgery produces positive results only if you work with your doctor and commit to making the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes.
If you are considering weight loss surgery, contact The Bariatric Clinic, P.A., to arrange a consultation to determine if you are a candidate for gastric bypass or other bariatric surgery.